By Nick Stern, Copy Editor
Acting students at CNM can now look forward to a brand new stage and a whole new building dedicated to the theater department for the first time in the school’s history, Theater Instructor Joe Damour said.
And as the new stage is being built this summer so will a new associate’s degree program be offered, which will specialize in theater, beginning in the fall 2014 semester, Damour said.
Damour said classes that are offered in the new major will include acting I and II, improvisation, screenwriting, and camera acting, as well as a few others, which will all be transferable to UNM. “The purpose of the program is that we get people into jobs, and that it gives us a chance to express ourselves in an incredible way,” he said.
Early Childhood Multicultural Education major, Avery Miller said she was not aware of the new theater or the Associate’s in theater until recently, but was greatly impressed by the new changes and what they could mean for the students and surrounding community.
“Personally I could benefit from it constructively for my students when I begin to teach. I would know a little bit more about theater, how it goes and how to be more dramatic, and maybe be more of a character myself,” she said.
The construction for the new stage began in March of the spring semester and is anticipated to be up and ready to go by the middle of August; just in time for the fall 2014 semester, Damour said.
Different types of theater classes are expected to be able to take full advantage of the space when the semester rolls around, he said.
Damour said the building being renovated for the theater used to be a document storage building, and will include an outdoor mini-amphitheater as well.
“The whole program is roaring and getting underway and it is because —well, it’s because we worked on it, but the theater is part of what we asked for a long time ago. I mean, how can you have a theater program without a theater? Everything takes time — this is a huge institution,” Damour said.
The new stage is intended to seat 60 to 80 people, and much of the work has already been completed, he said.
The stage and theater style seats are universal, and can be moved or morphed to accommodate each show for space, need and audience size, he said.
The new theater area will have the latest in what is to offer for auditorium spaces, which Damour said includes sound-proof paneling throughout the staging area, a lighting and sound system, a dressing room, prop making and clean-up areas, as well as a new sound proof ventilation system installed and designed to eliminate any noise while shows go on.
“It is going to be all the latest stuff,” Damour said.
Once the new theater is complete, it is planned to hold two large productions a year, which students of any major can audition for and can receive credit for participating in the play, Damour said.
“We hope to have a show go up toward the end of the fall term,” he said.The new stage and theater major will go hand-in-hand, as the stage will be completed and ready for use while the option to major in theater should become available, Damour said.
The renovated space is intended to not only serve the community with different types of theatrical productions, but to help the theater program grow and develop in to something bigger and better than it was before, which Damour said was only a couple classes just a few years ago.
“All there was really was intro to theater— there was an academic course on musical theater, but I believe that was it,” he said.
One possibility Damour said he sees for the future is the chance for experienced actors in the community to work with CNM students on different productions, which could provide invaluable experience and insight for students hoping to enter the field of acting.
Damour said it is very common for actors to come speak and teach students, but that there was no outlet for it until the new upgrades to the program, he said.
“Being able to act with somebody who’s got a ton of experience —students will be able to benefit immensely,” he said.
For more information on theater classes and the new theater major curriculum, students can inquire with the CHSS department at the Max Salazar building in the fourth floor office.